In The Shadow of the Object, Christopher Bollas integrates aspects of Freud’s theory of unconscious thinking with elements from the British Object Relations School. In doing so, he offers radical new visions of the scope of psychoanalysis and expands our understanding of the creativity of the unconscious mind and the aesthetics of human character. 

During our formative years, we are continually "impressed" by the object world. Most of this experience will never be consciously thought, and but it resides within us as assumed knowledge. Bollas has termed this "the unthought known", a phrase that has ramified through many realms of human exploration, including the worlds of letters, psychology and the arts.

Aspects of the unthought known --the primary repressed unconscious --will emerge during a psychoanalysis, as a mood, the aesthetic of a dream, or in our relation to the self as other. Within the unique analytic relationship, it becomes possible, at least in part, to think the unthought -- an experience that has enormous transformative potential.

Published here with a new preface by Christopher Bollas, The Shadow of the Object remains a classic of the psychoanalytic literature, written by a truly original thinker.

part I|60 pages

The shadow of the object

chapter 1|12 pages

The transformational object

chapter 3|16 pages

The self as object

chapter 4|12 pages

At the Other’s play

To dream

chapter 5|10 pages

The trisexual

part II|51 pages


chapter 6|12 pages

Moods and the conservative process

chapter 7|12 pages

Loving hate

chapter 8|16 pages

Normotic illness

chapter 9|9 pages

Extractive introjection

part III|73 pages


chapter 10|11 pages

The liar

chapter 11|8 pages

The psychoanalyst and the hysteric

chapter 12|25 pages

Expressive uses of the countertransference

Notes to the patient from oneself

chapter 13|14 pages

Self analysis and the countertransference

chapter 14|13 pages

Ordinary regression to dependence

part IV|7 pages


chapter 15|5 pages

The unthought known

Early considerations